Australia really does have the capacity to generate far more solar power than we need, so why not make use of that awesome oversupply to this sunburned country?
Having established the viability and usefulness of HVDC cable links to transmit power of very long distances, there is another opportunity for Australia. Connecting firstly to Indonesia and then to other South East Asian countries to provide clean energy generated in the north of Western Australia and Queensland.
We could move from supplying finite raw materials to sustainable raw energy.
Pan Asia Renewable power analysis 
If that sounds like a wild fantasy, then consider that the idea has already been discussed between Australian and Indonesian universities and politicians and papers have been produced analyzing the viability of such a project. These papers explore the problems of ocean depth between the countries, the expected power loss and the use of hydro stored energy to provide consistent power 24 hours a day. One goes into more depth on establishing a pan-Asia power network that would connect Australia to Northern China and Mongolia, with spurs to other countries.
Pan Asia Network Connections 
There have been three major studies undertaken into the feasibility of a 100% renewable electricity future for Australia. All three confirm it is possible, but political willpower is still lacking as the fossil fuel industry lobby maintains a grip on government policy. The three studies were undertaken by a combination of universities and private industry that show a clear pathway for Australia to place itself at the forefront of global change.
The AEMO study shows we could make the transition in 17 years, given significant attention and national focus. The other studies propose faster and slower progression rates and demonstrate that the cost to consumers would not change greatly from current costs – thus escaping the external price rises on fossil fuels. Even if not complete after 17 years, getting past the 90% mark should be enough to escape the energy trap. This means we would need to replace existing generating capacity at a rate of about 3 GWh per annum on average. Spreading this load across solar thermal, photovoltaic, wind energy, tidal and geothermal plants, this change is more likely to happen in bursts as new plants come online. Even if the whole load were placed on solar thermal, this amounts to eleven plants per year. Whilst this would represent a significant engineering investment, it would be less than the current forecast of electricity generation plant projects in Australia.
Number and nominal value of electricity generation projects at the Committed Stage 
These projects have been adding an average of between 2 and 3 GW of electricity generation per year. Hence, the change to construction of renewable, instead of fossil fuel, power stations would not represent any significant change in the level of activity.
It would, however, signal a change in the engineering skills required to execute the process. These skills would need to be imported at first; then developed extensively through universities both training engineers and researching improvements to electricity generation and storage methods. This would also mean huge employment opportunities for decades as Australia rebuilds its core infrastructure to meet the needs of the changing world. With 1500 construction jobs per Solar Thermal plant and 85 permanent jobs created afterwards, this could also significantly benefit regional Australia in the long term. It would mean almost 16,000 permanent jobs spread around the country to support the 186 plants. That number would change with a greater diversity of power generation plants, but would still represent a significant workforce.
Why Australia Should Be a World Solar Energy Leader
It is important to note that in 2013, Germany almost met Australia’s entire demand with solar power alone for a day in May when they set a global record of 22.68GWh of solar power generation to a national grid. This beats they record they set in 2012 by generating 22.2GWh. This is in a country that receives about one third of the raw solar energy that Australia does.
In 2012 in total, Germany generated 92TWh or electricity from renewable sources, almost 20% of that figure was hydro power running 24 hours a day. So to put that into context, Germany is already generating almost half of Australia’s current annual consumption from renewable sources and has been doing this for two year already. Australia has no excuse to not be the world leader in the production of renewable energy.
Multiple studies have shown Australia could be approaching 100% renewable energy by 2030 if this was set as the direction in the country. The only thing lacking is government will to make the necessary change as soon as possible. The fundamental idea in all these proposals is that we will move from a highly centralized power generation model to use multiple means of generation as well as distributed means, such as rooftop solar panels.
Installed Capacity by Technology, AEMO report Scenario 1 (Faster change and Technology improvement)
Actual Energy Generation by Technology, AEMO Report Scenario 1 (Faster change and Technology improvement)
Total Renewable Electricity Generation Capacity in Australia by Energy Source
The best known is the Snowy Mountain Hydroelectric scheme that has been operating for decades. It has since been joined by further large hydro schemes in Tasmania and smaller ones in other states such that there are now over 100 hydroelectric plants in operation.
By far the strongest growing source of power there are about 10 wind farms that generate over 100 megawatts of electricity, with many more of all sizes under construction. Current estimates are that total wind power is now over 7,700 GWh per year.
Sunwiz maintain a list of all solar installations over 40kW which is available here. This shows there are many commercial solar installations both completed and underway and they keep getting larger with multiple 1 Megawatt power plants in existence in 2013, including Uterne deployed by community groups near Alice Springs with the assistance of the Northern Territory Power and Water Authority (PAWA). The largest is the Greenough River power station near Geraldton in Western Australia that was commissioned in 2012 and generates 10 megawatts of electricity.
PowerWater (The Northern Territory grid operator) has also been heavily involved in trial projects to deploy a tidal power turbine in the Clarence Strait between Bathurst and Melville islands north of Darwin. The company driving the commercialization of this system, Tenax, have recently signed agreements with PowerWater and Charles Darwin University to develop a 2MW Pilot Plant and a Research and Tropical Tidal Testing Centre. This places Australia at the forefront of tidal power development globally and is also the only system designing and testing in the tropics. This creates vast opportunities to extend this technology through Asia after developing the intellectual property and experience in Australia.
There are two utility scale wave generation projects occurring in Australia, the first is in Victoria and the second in Western Australia. The Victorian project is being run by Victorian Wave Partners, an organisation funded by Ocean Power Technologies, Inc and ARENA (the Australian Renewable Energy Agency). The project announced in January of 2014 that Lockheed Martin had been engaged to manage the build of the equipment used in phase one to generate 2.5MW of electricity. The final plant, when complete, is expected to generate around 19MW steadily with a peak production of 62.5MW.
The Western Australian project, Bombora Wavepower, is deploying a completely different wave powered solution in which each individual generation unit is expected to provide 1.5MW of electricity. This is roughly the same as a current wind generator; meaning around seven units would be enough to power an average city suburb.
Another company, Geodynamics, completed a successful pilot of a 1 MW geothermal power plant in the Cooper Basin, South Australia in 2013. It ran for 160 days and proved that the area is viable for continuous production of geothermal power in Australia with the opportunity for significant expansion in size. The Cooper Basin area is integral to the AEMO plan for 100% renewable energy and could be connected to the national grid via a HVDC cable link.
Business is important, but not more important than the quality of life of the bulk of the population. Corporations must work within the structure government imposes to ensure a regulated market working for the people’s benefit is the result. A free market is a utopian myth that exists only in the imagination of economists. The term ‘free market’ has been twisted in the last few decades to carry only the meaning ‘free from government regulation’. It is then further warped by the hypocrisy caused by greedy rich people who maintain that government interference distorts markets, yet actively pursue corporate welfare programs. They are against government interference with their interests, but support receiving taxpayer money without providing benefit in return. This is the culture of greed that must be struck down.
What is required after this change in definition of a corporation is a balancing force on the market to ensure we gain the benefits of innovation and competition without the stagnation of corporate monopolies. The incredible deregulation of the US market since 1980 has shown clearly that this approach only achieves a concentration of wealth in the hands of the few; it guarantees monopolies are the result. This can be directly, where a single company operates in an industry, or indirectly, where a single umbrella company owns a controlling share in multiple subsidiaries that pretend to compete. In order to balance off the tendency for large corporations to swallow smaller ones, engage in anti-competitive practices and outright distort the market in their favour; there needs to be a balancing force.
This balancing force is provided by the government in the form of a program that actively takes profits from large corporations and redistributes them to incubate entrepreneurs, startups and small business. This incubation is aimed to protect small business from anti-competitive activities and supporting them to grow as required within the principle of a zero global net growth sustainable economy. The aim is to teach, train and encourage new businesses at the expense of old ones, creating a dynamic marketplace dedicated to reinventing itself perpetually within a zero global net growth balance sheet.
End Corporate Welfare
In order to maintain the effectiveness of the incubation program; above a defined level, no corporation can receive ANY subsidy, rebate, tax relief, or support in any form, from the government. That level in 2013 should be set for any business that receives over $1 billion in revenue. If their business model cannot operate without government assistance once they are this large, they don’t deserve to be in business and instead should fail and become fodder for the next generation of the business community. This promotes real market competition to ensure business leaders are focussed on service provision and innovation instead of wasting taxpayer money on corporate welfare.
Any business must recognize that it owes a debt to every society and the world in which it operates. An obvious example of this debt includes the incubation help received when it was a small business. There is also the cost to government to provide the safe, stable society, a clean environment and the regulated marketplace that business needs to operate most effectively.
Since it owes this debt, it must be paid from its profits.
This is after paying all workers fair wages, providing a safe and productive work environment and satisfying all operational partners and creditors. This profit tax serves to ensure that large business always returns the favours provided to it by government, society and environment; it is not payable by small business at all. The cutoff to attract the profit tax in 2013 should be any company with annual profits over $500 million and this value should be adjusted annually.
A profit tax will be levied on all companies such that they cannot avoid tax and pay shareholders dividends at the same time. Before any dividends can be paid the profit tax must be accounted for, to some extent, this is an extension of the franked dividend system in Australia. The tax level will be progressive such that above a certain point, all further profits would go to the government. It should start at 2% of profits at the $500 million mark and work progressively up to 100% of profits after the $2 billion mark in annual profits. The skill in running a large business becomes staying small and focused enough to escape the profit tax, but large enough to be permanently viable. A new breed of smarter business manager will be required. The aim is that they are so busy competing in the market, there isn’t enough time or money to waste on regulatory capture.
The form of this redistribution can be more creative than current grant programs or government allocations. Perhaps people can nominate kickstarter style projects on a government website as a part of their tax return process each year. Half the revenue is then allocated according to popular desire. The other half can be allocated by a group of business leaders who change every year. This balances popular ideas with ideas that have the most attractive business cases. In order to get a project listed on this site, the business startup would need to meet a series of requirements to produce a business plan, cost models and appeal for funding. The aim would be to filter out both people without a good idea or plan as well as people trying to make their business plan getting money via this program. If a business receives money from this source, neither it, nor its owner can apply for any further funding for three years. This encourages them to give the startup all their attention to make it a viable ongoing business. It must also provide regular reporting along the lines of current grant programs.
The aim is to put both purchasing and entrepreneurial power firmly back into the hands of the masses.
Every society needs a well-functioning business community from the smallest sole trader to the largest multinational corporation. All levels of business have something to offer society as a whole, but they can only operate in society’s interests if given the right guidelines to work within. The focus must be on entrepreneurial startups and small or medium businesses that account for the majority of job creation and sustainability. They also account for the majority of strong business innovation. Any government that claims to support business, but fails to direct the majority of resources to this sector, is fundamentally failing to achieve their goals.
This isn’t to say that corporations have been an entirely destructive force on society. They have also served to provide the impetus behind bringing the global population together in trading empires. They have funded the spread of internet access globally that has helped the new era of global revolts endlessly. They have broken down national walls and made it possible for an individual to run a multinational business – look at the sellers on eBay, Etsy, Amazon and a million other business sites if you think that is an exaggeration. They have produced a global monetary system that allows fortunes to traverse the globe in milliseconds. These were all necessary steps to enable the people to take their place as entrepreneurs in a global marketplace. The age of the corporation must give way to the age of the collaboration.
There have been numerous shared business spaces created in cities around the world to foster small business collaboration. Organizations like Hub Australia form a part of a global network of similar spaces in forty cities across five continents. These were created to encourage and enable collaboration between otherwise disconnected businesses. This increases the chance of meeting the people you need to progress your own ideas as well as helping other people progress theirs. This global, collaborative economy of entrepreneurs is the way of the future. This is exactly the system we need to encourage to break the stranglehold of corporate greed.
The advent of ‘benefit corporations’, B-corps, also shows a different approach to the problem by redefining the aim of corporations. This represents a conscious move from being solely focused on generating profit for shareholders to instead aspiring to do no harm and provide benefit everybody along the pathway to turning a profit. Essentially B-corporations espouse the need for triple bottom line accounting in all businesses; people, planet and profit. This changes the nature of the organization from a focused psychopath chasing only profits, to an entity functioning within, and as an integral part of, a bigger community. This would teach the child-like modern corporations to grow up and learn to share. This kind of mature social behavior would represent a powerful change in the general operation of business. This also creates some self-regulation by these entities whereby they will report each other to the certifying group since they understand that failure to do so will result in a break of trust with the consumer that ultimately hurts them all. A new part of business competition will be keeping wholly within the B-corporation definition, lest your competitors report you to the regulating body.
Cooperatives and Mutuals
There are a large number of cooperative businesses operating in Australia with huge success; around 1800 cooperatives and 108 mutual banking organizations. Around 79% of Australians are a member of some kind of cooperative or mutual organization, which explains why they collectively generate almost $18 billion a year in revenue. Well known cooperatives include Automobile clubs (eg, RACV, RACQ) and agricultural societies (eg, Murray Goulburn Cooperative, Dairy Farmers Milk Cooperative).
The primary attractiveness of this kind of business structure is that the customer is also the owner investor. This means that profits produced by the organization are used purely to benefit the members. There are no external shareholders with a purely capital interest. They have been used to create a large body to represent the common interests of a group to provide greater bargaining power; like a union but actually operating the business. They are also used in small businesses as a worker’s cooperative to provide greater incentive for individual workers to contribute to the success of the operation, as they will directly receive a share in the profits. Sometimes this has operated in a mixed mode whereby workers are given shares in the company as a part of their packages as well as opening shareholding to external investors with a purely capital interest.
One of the more famous global worker’s co-operatives is W.L Gore and Associates, the creators of the Gore-Tex material. Not only do all employees share in profits, but they operate in a ‘lattice’ organizational structure. This means that there are no bosses or hierarchy and everyone is an equal associate. Leadership comes naturally as people align to follow different individuals based on their ability to guide a team in delivering results. The result has been they have one of the very lowest staff turnovers of any company and have featured in the Fortune magazine annual ‘100 best companies to work for’ since 1984.
In early 2014 new national laws agreed to in 2012 began to take affect across Australian states to provide a standard, national legal framework for cooperatives. Historically these organizations were registered and operated on a state by state basis, making it difficult to run larger organizations with national memberships of common interest. This new recognition will make this an even more powerful force for promoting socially responsible business.
The government exists as the representative of ALL the people they rule.
In order to have a balanced society that operates overall for everyone’s benefit, then the government must act to balance the interests of these three kinds of groups. To provide and preserve that framework of mutual benefit and balance, somebody must act as the referee in disputes. It is essential that the referee is both beyond reproach and does not act purely in the interests of any one of those entities. That referee is the legal system, which is already kept separate from the operation of government under the doctrine of the separation of powers. This doctrine could be strengthened to change the way judges are selected from the current system of political appointment.
Here are some principles to guide the interaction of these groups and the roles the play. This should inform all legislative decisions
The People Come First
If there is a direct conflict between the combination of the interests of society & the global environment and the desires of any one interest group, then the needs of society and the environment must prevail.
o This is the essence of accepting Environmental Debt onto the accounting sheet of history.
o Punishments for offences must be extremely harsh and escalate with repeat offences.
o This is the Essence of accepting Social Debt onto the accounting sheet of history.
o Punishments for offences must be extremely harsh and escalate with repeat offences.
The fundamental problem with making environmental factors accessible in economic modelling is that this requires a way to convert the natural world into an economic equivalent. What this has come down to is putting a dollar value on everything so it can be processed with economic models.
Whilst this approach can’t really accommodate the sense of loss we have created in driving species to extinction and destroying pristine environments, it does at least represent a way of driving the right behavior from financial institutions and corporations. If the environmental inputs to the economic model make the business unprofitable; we all win as it is discarded.
There are already multiple environmental accounting systems, the System of Environmental-Economic Accounting (SEEA) is one widely used and supported globally by many organizations. It provides a standard data set with agreed rules on its use and application to many aspects of economic modelling.
The compulsory adoption of such a standard to properly analyze all commercial operations is a necessary step towards accepting and paying our environmental debt. This must be much more than a simple environmental impact statement created at the start of a project or commercial operation; it must be a permanent component of all ongoing account keeping.
As environmental debt tracks the costs to the natural world, social debt tracks the continuing impacts of a commercial activity on society. Examples would be the provision of meaningful work to a large number of people in a community, or causing the lack thereof. Combined with environmental debt, this would allow the full costs of a continuing oil leak from a pipe that damages land a village used to use to grow food to be calculated and assigned to the corporation as debt.
Triple Bottom Line Accounting
This would form the detailed basis to enforce ‘triple bottom line’ accounting, the idea that any business balance sheet should include lines for people and the planet before profit can be calculated. This must be the standard for business accounting in the near future. In order to provide corporations with reasonable notice time to train their staff to implement the change, this should be introduced over a five year period. The system should be operational in the third and fourth years to allow corporations to learn how to manage the systems before they are judged by them and face criminal prosecutions for perpetrating social and environmental crimes.
The depth and complexity of this system should vary based on the size and operations of the business. A corner store should have very light regulatory requirements, a business involved in industrial cleaning should have industry specific requirements and a multinational should have the highest level of legal compliance. The cost of such compliance is a cost of business and must be borne by the corporation entirely.
The Separation of Church, State and Corporation
Any church that engages in any form of political activity directly supporting, funding or providing assistance to a political group will lose its tax free status immediately and permanently.
Any corporation that engages in any form of political activity supporting, funding or providing public assistance to a political group is subject to progressive fines that begin at 10% of the average annual revenue for the last five years (excluding years the business did not operate) and increase by 10% with each successive offence.
With the active redistribution of wealth to the greater community, direct funding by organizations will no longer be necessary or affordable. Only private individuals should be able to support political groups directly with whatever money they wish.
Further attention needs to be paid to the appointment of judges to supreme, federal and high court roles. These appointments today are entirely political in nature and this has blurred the boundaries of the Doctrine of the Separation of powers. Judges cannot be seen to be aligned with any political group and should be appointed by a different process. This should not be a direct election as this will only result in populist, charismatic applicants lacking the discipline to act as impartial judges of our law.
Whilst this is not an issue directly connected to the primary aims of addressing climate change in a world of neoliberal governments, this does bear a strong mention. The health of a nation contributes directly to its overall prosperity, so providing a freely accessible system to all citizens is in the best interests of any country. The Medicare system in Australia has been under attack from the neoliberal federal and state conservative governments since 1996. This has taken many forms, but the most insidious is the redirection of government money to pay the private health insurance industry to do work better performed by the government.
The primary reason given for the introduction of this system was to reduce the load on public hospitals by redistributing patients to the private system. This has proven to be a completely unsubstantiated misleading of the population as this reduction has never occurred. What it actually provided was taxpayer funding for wealthier members of society to jump the queue to receive surgery earlier than funding of the public system would provide. This now amounts to over $5 billion a year in welfare for the rich who simply don’t need it. Even factoring in the increased costs in the public system as a result of people cancelling their private health insurance, studies from 2013 show there would be a net increase of around $3 billion available to spend on the health system. Redirecting this amount to reducing queue times would have a substantially greater effect on the national health system. There is still demand for private health care and this should continue; it just doesn’t require taxpayer’s money to do so.
All organizations engaging in financial transactions that exceed a set amount per annum should attract a tax on EVERY transaction (including the ones below the threshold). This kind of tax has already been established in multiple European countries and there is a group of European Union countries attempting to have it implemented across Europe. The aim there is to force financial institutions to repay the taxpayer’s bailout money they received as well as provide a solid contribution to government funding generally. This is meeting a lot of resistance from the financial industry of course and the start date of the Europe wide program has been delayed.
This small businesses and individuals are will never need to pay this tax. This tax is aimed at:
Punishments for attempting to avoid this tax should follow the same logic as the new white collar crimes, attracting a progressively higher fine calculated as a percentage of total revenue; that increases with each successive offence to provide an effective deterrent.
The revenue captured by this tax would be directed to fund the new industry ombudsman regulation program and to support the expected extra load this new regulation will place on the legal system for the first decade of operation. Any excess should result in either greater health and education services or a reduction to individual income tax rates. This tax could capture $10 billion a year in Australia.
The actions of the banking and finance industry in particular have shown a reckless abandon with the world’s finances that is likely to cause an immense global crash in the next few years. The bailout of the US mega banks in 2008 resulted in an even greater conglomeration of financial institutions into fewer, larger bodies capable of inflicting permanent damage on the global economy. This behavior must be stopped and the financial industry requires special attention as a result. They have proven that they simply cannot be trusted with self-regulation, behaving like spoiled schoolkids, and now they must be brought to account.
In order to drive the right behaviours without losing the benefits of a global financial system, governments worldwide must adopt new, stringent regulations on all financial institutions. Australia can be a leader in these provisions to show the world how to strike a far more intelligent balance between the desires of business & finance and those of the people and the environment.
The Creation of Money Without Debt
The government needs to return the power to create money to a government controlled entity that is fully audited, transparent and subject to public scrutiny on all its operations. The current situation where a group of international banks determine policy for many countries is unacceptable as they routinely help themselves at the expense of the sovereign, elected, powers. The current state of the creation of all money as debt by financial organizations must be stopped and changed – there are better alternatives. This will cause the Ponzi scheme we call the global economy to crash and that is an intended result. The endless debt cycle must be escaped by cancelling the majority of it and placing any remaining burden on financial institutions to repay over time.
Money should primarily be created by governments with no debt attached, this removes the endless cycle of unpayable debt that the banking industry inflicted on the US in 1913, that became a world standard over the following decades. If government expenditure of created money becomes a primary way new money enters the economy, then any further creation of money must be made subject to this amount. The current practices of banks creating infinite money to pay for infinite debt and shuffling the debt burden between entities is unsustainable. Hence, any further money supply required on an annual basis should come only after government expenditure needs are complete. As a result, governments will no longer be burdened with artificial debt that enslaves them to the interests of the financial community. If further creation of money would destabilize the currency, then no further money is created and the banks must return to full reserve banking practices. This allows a focus to be made on maintaining and improving national infrastructure and services instead of the international gambling currently undertaken by banks.
Reconsider Fractional Reserve Banking
Fractional Reserve Banking
Fractional reserve banking as a system puts too much power in the hands of unelected, unrepresentative people with an agenda that runs counter to the best interests of the majority of people in any country. Bringing back the power to create money to the government creates a natural balance in the process, so that banks no longer have the power or desire to create endless money to feed the endless artificial debt. The nature of this change must be made subject to the primary principle of a Sustainable Zero Net Growth economy and that only governments can create money. Financial institutions must be made to serve the whole population, not a small subset of greedy bankers.
Put the reserve bank back under complete government control
The reserve bank is a useful construct, but must be made wholly accountable to the government and the people. It must become transparent in its dealings and any requests for action from global institutions a matter of public record. Global financial institutions have proved they cannot be trusted and the fact they are not accountable to anyone is a primary factor.
Australians don’t care much for politicians or governments, which seems strange when you look at the incredibly regulated and government controlled society we inhabit. The level of apathy in the average voter is well documented, has been the status quo for decades and no significant change is apparent today. There have been many recommendations to put more into the education system on the topic, to create more civic minded and active citizens; but actions are hard to find. There is a new generation of young adults who are far more ecologically minded and focused on the unsustainable world they are living in. However, they are being more than balanced by the huge baby boomer population, who have failed to provide for the future generations; instead leaving a massive financial debt for their retirement years and even larger environmental debt with climate change.
This apathy and disconnection with politics has meant the majority of Australians do not understand the political system and their only engagement with it is at election times. This means there is no great pressure on politicians to do anything more than appear in public and on the media stating the party slogans repeatedly. Until the people of Australia demand more from their representatives, they will be stuck with the government they deserve.
The fundamental conflict in world views between generations, global and environmental instead of local and selfish, causes even further distancing of most of the population from baby boomer politicians who cannot maintain any relevance or attraction for the new audience.
One third of Australians did not vote for either major party. If each major party only received a third of the votes, how did anybody form a government? Since 2010, minority governments are the new standard. Labor, the Greens and two independent members formed their first coalition in 2010 and then the conservative coalition of four parties won in 2013. So the truth is, Australia is really a six party system with small parties and independents making up the gap. It is clear that many Australians no longer follow either old party exclusively; a trend that has been growing steadily since 1990. In fact, the division of votes away from the two old parties has not been so extreme since the 1940 election, which was also the last hung parliament before the 2010 Gillard led government.
The reality is Australians are showing constant discontent with the old party actions, leadership and direction and keep voting away from them. The problem is that neither old party have showed much interest in re-engaging with the electorate; rather treating voters as ignorant fools who can be easily manipulated with campaigns based on slogans, lies and hypocrisy.
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